Film Reviews

“Ever Felt Born In The Wrong Decade? The Past Is Not Quite As Glamourous As It Seems” – Film Review: Last Night In Soho

Tim Ovenden

Eloise (Thomasin McKensie) is a quiet girl from a small village with dreams of becoming a major fashion designer in the big city. She also sees the ghosts of dead people, for some reason…Tim Ovenden gives Last Night in Soho the onceover.

First year of study at the London College of Fashion looms and the stage is set for the thrills and spills of Uni life. A psychic, snidey roommate and impending deadlines play second fiddle when ghosties and ghoulies start to takeover day to day life for Eloise. Vivid dreams of an aspiring 60s singer Sandy (Anya Taylor Joy) blur the lines of reality in Edgar Wright’s first plunge into straight-faced horror. 

witty parody does not an auteur make

Edgar Wright may be the British Tarantino. When either of them releases a new film it’s an event: they’re flashy; they’re on film; they’re almost bursting with an obvious love for movies and music. But are they actually that good? Tarantino has at least proven himself with masterpieces like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, despite me finding the rest of his filmography middling or overrated; but Edgar Wright is yet to reach this peak. His Cornetto trilogy is great fun and endlessly rewatchable, yet witty parody does not an auteur make.

Wright’s serious genre pieces seem to exhibit life in a dreamland mirror of the real world, as if he can’t truly move away from the spoofs that made his career. Duly, some might be taken out of the film by certain game breaking elements. In Baby Driver, this issue reared its head for me with the one-dimensional love interest willing to inexplicably throw her life on the line. Wright was clearly playing into simplistic action movie staples here, but making their romance so central to the film’s plot and stakes inhibits the film from being regarded as anything more than a well-directed romp. The same core problem lies in the foundations of Last Night In Soho.

Wright’s signature kinetic editing keeps it engaging throughout

It may come as a shock, but I had a great time with this film. Wright’s signature kinetic editing keeps it engaging throughout and I liked seeing university archetypes faithfully represented, including rage-inducingly belittling and endearingly in-love classmates alike. It is certainly worth a watch.

Ever felt born in the wrong decade? Eloise is: she loves 60s music and 60s fashion and it isn’t long before she feels more at home in her 60s dreamscape than in the present day. This film is chiefly a warning that the past is not as glamorous as it seems.

Going in blind, I actually thought the entire film was set in a previous decade, until five minutes in when we cut to Eloise on the train blasting music out of whatever headphones the product placement department greenlit. This quaint opening introduces us to Eloise’s dead Mother, with Grandma on hand dropping exposition aplenty. I was under the assumption that the circumstances of Ma’s death would come back later as Chekov’s gun-style payoff, but no, it was just set up that our protagonist can see dead people.

an argument to be made about Wright using such sensitive and important issues as essentially shock value

We’re introduced to London via a seedy cab driver with all too obvious intentions for an alone Eloise; the theme of misogyny and female vulnerability is timely sown throughout. There’s an argument to be made about Wright using such sensitive and important issues as essentially shock value, but I commend the attempt at drawing attention towards these pressing subjects.

The horror movie staples are out in force and there’s no better place than London to use taxi cabs as vessels for jump scares, although doing this on three separate occasions seems a little excessive.  The film gets a little bogged down in the later stages as horror elements drown out the plotting. I never really felt the building Hitchcockian sense of dread that a film like this needs – it more or less simply goes through the motions until the finale – but fortunately the movie is tied up in a fairly neat bow. Overall, I would give this movie a recommendation, provided you can put up with the quite graphic violence that is at times needlessly flaunted.

Tim Ovenden

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article image courtesy of @lastnightinsoho via No changes were made to this image.

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